Senda <I>Berenson</I> Abbott

Senda Berenson Abbott

Vilnius, Vilnius City Municipality, Vilnius, Lithuania
Death 16 Feb 1954 (aged 85)
Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County, California, USA
Burial New Windsor, Orange County, New York, USA
Plot Section G, Lot 251
Memorial ID 61073043 · View Source
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Hall of Fame Basketball Pioneer. Known as "The Mother of Women's Basketball". Born Senda Valvrojenski, her family immigrated to the United States when she was seven, settling in the Boston area. Her early interests included music, art and literature. She was not particularly physically active, but when back problems forced her to give up the piano, she turned to an exercise regimen at the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics for relief. From there, her interest in physical activity and its benefits led her to take the position of Director of the Gymnasium and Instructor of Physical Culture at Smith College. Shortly before her appointment at Smith, James Naismith had invented the game of basketball at the International YMCA Training School in nearby Springfield, Massachusetts. Upon reading about the game, she paid a visit to Naismith, gathering enough information and encouragement to decide to institute the game as a part of the physical education program at Smith. She agreed with Naismith's philosophy that the game should encourage socialization and cooperation as opposed to competition. On March 21, 1893, the first women's basketball game was played at Smith between Berenson's freshmen and sophomores. As a matter of decorum, no men were allowed to watch the games. She soon found Naismith's version of the game too rough for women, and proceeded to modify the game. She divided the court into three sections and players were assigned to each section and were not allowed to leave their area. She also decided that women should not try to snatch the ball from an opponent as in the men's game. She wrote the first rule book for women's basketball which was published in 1899. She was the author of the Basketball Guide for Women from 1901 to 1907, and was the Chairperson of the Basketball Committee for Women from 1905 to 1917. In 1985, the first year that women were recognized by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Abbott was one of three women included in that year's class. In 1987, she was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, and in 1999, she was a part of the inaugural class of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

Bio by: Rick Bryant

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Rick Bryant
  • Added: 3 Nov 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 61073043
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Senda Berenson Abbott (19 Mar 1868–16 Feb 1954), Find A Grave Memorial no. 61073043, citing Woodlawn Cemetery Association, New Windsor, Orange County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .